We often hear this word thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? I looked it up the other day and wasn’t satisfied with the standard definition, so I broke the word down, conducted an out-of-the-box word search and learned that the word politics comes from the Greek word Poly, which means many, and tics, which are arachnids that feed of the blood of mammals and other creatures: in other words, many bloodsuckers. Yep, that sounds about right.
Before you start thinking this is going to be a diatribe on any specific person or political party, I’m sorry to disappoint you. You might see something like that as we draw closer to November 2020, but not today. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I am socially liberal but fiscally conservative, which puts me right smack in the middle of the political spectrum, as I presume most people are. I also vote for the candidate, not the party.
Our political system is broken, but judging from what I read about Great Britain and some of the other world news, I suspect we aren’t the only country that can say that. I think term limits are necessary because elections are more like auctions where the nomination goes to the highest bidder in terms of lobbying and endorsement money, and doesn’t come close to separating the wheat from the chaff.
And once a person is elected to office, is their priority to do what is right and best for their constituents? Hah! No, the number one priority is to get re-elected, and to do that you need cash. Perhaps a candidate begins the process in good faith and with good intentions, but when the rubber hits the road, they become beholden to the special interests that fund their campaigns, got them elected in the first place, and put those needs above the people they are supposed to represent.
Politics, in theory, demands compromise, and putting the common good above everything else. Nobody gets everything they want, but gets what they can live with. Perhaps there was more of that before I came of age, but it certainly isn’t that way now.
Admittedly, the nature of politics is to obtain power to promote your party’s agenda. When political blood is spilled the sharks hone in on their target, particularly around election time hoping to rip them to shreds and kill their re-election chances.
But when did it become such a blood sport, where the only thing that is important is to kill or be killed, to say no to anything to opposition proposes, and not be willing to consider another point of view and to bastardize long-standing protocols and traditions (Mitch McConnell refusing to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016, for instance) in order to promote one’s own political agenda and ideology? When did it get so nasty and demeaning? And when, given some of the nonsense coming out of people like Devin Nunes, did we begin electing sycophants and buffoons?
Have I been asleep at the switch for that long? Sometimes I wonder because I thought Rudy Gulianni was the greatest thing since sliced bread after the nine-eleven attacks. I didn’t know the guy or his history as NYC’s mayor, but he certainly presented well as he galvanized the city and nation with his pluck and attitude in getting his city back on it’s feet. Now I think he’s a whacked-out loose cannon and bat-shit crazy.
What is going on now, and seems to have been escalating ever since Karl Rove was part of Dubya’s inner circle, is discouraging as hell. Nobody accomplishes anything, gridlock ensues, nobody takes ownership. The other side is blamed, and our national debate devolves into name calling, outright lying, and deflecting attention away from real issues. It’s getting worse instead of better. Some it of is so blatant that I often wonder if our politicians think the electorate is really that gullible and stupid. It’s insulting to think we are viewed as nothing more than faithful sheep who blindly buy a bill of goods without reservations or questions.
Perhaps it’s because our attention spans have shrunken to that of a gnat. Maybe it’s because in a social media and reality television-driven world, politics is nothing more than a form of entertainment for the masses, replete with heroes and villains, depending on which side of the aisle you reside in. Unfortunately, negativity sells. The issues get buried for the spectacle of the the show. Maybe it’s because we have morphed into an it’s all about me society, and as long as our 401ks are healthy we don’t give a shit about unimportant things, like climate change.
I’m not bitter, just embarrassed and extremely worried about the sideshow we currently finds ourselves in. The level of hypocrisy is appalling, and so is the apparentl level of apathy in some circles. Or maybe it is a feeling of hopelessness.
I have tried to avoid getting caught up in the circus that is Washington DC by taking the ostrich approach, sticking my head in the sand to drown out the noise until next fall. But the drumbeat of discontent, the closed-mindedness, the unwillingness to consider different points of view and outright hostility make that difficult.
If nothing else, I expect and truly hope that we have a massive voter turnout in 2020. If that occurs, I believe we can expect fundamental change. One would think that would be the only way the jackals in DC will get the message and (hopefully) act accordingly. But there is no guarantee of that either because when one party gets pimp-slapped the other often doesn’t learn from their misfortune, and resort to payback for all the crap they felt they had to endure under the previous administration and Congressional leadership. All that changes is one end of the political spectrum becomes a lot happier than they are now, and vise versa.
In order for this change to occur, the youth of our country need to vote in much larger numbers, and become more politically engaged. It’s their future after all, and they have a lot more at stake as far as that is concerned compared to someone in their sixties.
It’s going to be an interesting, infuriating, maddening and fascinating eleven months. When it is over, we will remain a fractured country, but hopefully have the infrastructure in place that can being the long, hard task of healing our divisions rather than making them worse.
Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?